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Ayinapalli Aiyappan (5 February 1905 – 28 June 1988) was a museologist who served as Superintendent of the Government Museum, Madras from 1940 to 1960.[1] He was the first Indian to occupy the post. Aiyappan was also an amateur archaeologist who did pioneering excavations on the archaeological site at Arikamedu.[2]

Ayinapalli Aiyappan
A. Aiyappan.jpg
Superintendent of the Government Museum, Chennai and Connemara Public Library
In office
Preceded byF. H. Gravely
Succeeded byS. T. Satyamurthi
Personal details
Born(1905-02-05)5 February 1905
Pavaratty, Thrissur
Died28 June 1988(1988-06-28) (aged 83)
Pavaratty, Thrissur
Alma materUniversity of Madras


Aiyappan was born into the Ezhava community.[3] He obtained an MA in economics from the University of Madras in 1927, and in 1929 he joined the Government Museum, Madras. He continued to study, taking a PhD in 1937 after being a student of Raymond Firth at the London School of Economics. He became head of the museum in 1940 and continued there until 1958, whilst also being a visiting professor at Cornell University during 1954–1956. He became professor and head of the Department of Anthropology at Utkal University in 1958, and filled the same role at Andhra University in 1966–1967. In 1969 he was appointed vice-chancellor of Kerala University, a post in which he stayed for either 18 months or[1] until 1972,[4] dependent on the source selected.

In 1970 he became a sponsoring founder and first chairman of the Centre for Development Studies.[1] He was also a sponsoring founder and director[citation needed] of the Tribal Research Bureau of Odisha (now known as Tribal and Harijan Research and Training Institute),[1] and director of the Department of Rural Welfare of Odisha.[citation needed]

Aiyappan was involved in the reorganisation of the Odisha Museum as a multipurpose museum with the addition of natural history, mining and geology, and anthropology galleries.[citation needed] He was awarded the Saratchandra Roy Gold Medal of the Asiatic Society in Bengal. He was also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute. He died on 28 June 1988.[5][full citation needed][6][full citation needed]


  • Iravas and Cultural Change (PhD thesis, published in Bulletin of the Madras Museum, 1945)[a]
  • Social Revolution in a Kerala Village (1965)
  • Nayads of Kerala
  • The Personality of Kerala
  • Physical Anthropology of the Nayadis of Malabar
  • Bharathappazhama ( Malayalam)



  1. ^ Originally submitted to the London School of Economics in 1937 as Culture Change in South-Western India.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Tharakan, P. K. Michael (January–March 2005). "Remembering The Founder Chairman: A. Aiyappan" (PDF). Chronicle. Centre for Development Studies. 1 (1): 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  2. ^ Srivathsan, A. (1 July 2011). "Setting the record straight on the Arikamedu finds". The Hindu.
  3. ^ a b Osella, Filippo; Osella, Caroline (2000). Social Mobility In Kerala: Modernity and Identity in Conflict. Pluto Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780745316932.
  4. ^ Muthiah, S. (4 April 2005). "Pioneering Indian museologist". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  5. ^ Akhilavijnanakosam; D.C.Books; Kottayam
  6. ^ Sahithyakara Directory; Kerala Sahithya Academy, Thrissur